Arsenal 2 International Petroleum Investment Company XI 2

Dear Walter,

I hope you are having a lovely break away from it all.

Today we went to see Arsenal take on the International Petroleum Investment Company’s Works’ Team.

It was a bit of a curious affair, with some of the company’s team appearing to be what I believe are called “hearty roughs” – at least that is what we call them down south.  I’ve no idea what they are called up north.

The first thing to notice was that the fans and fellow workers of the team took up all the away seats available which was a change from that time when they very charitably chose to give a lot of them to Arsenal fans who wanted to see the match.  I don’t know why that charity has stopped, but I think it is a shame.  Can’t you have a word with them and tell them it is too expensive or something?

Of course these Works Teams are becoming a bit of the rage – indeed I’ve been told there is a fellow in Kensington who has a Works Team of his own – without actually having a Works, as it were.  Very curious idea.

But the real problem with football like this is that you get a ref from the same level.  I don’t know if you are able to see the game where you are, Walter, but if you can I’m sure you will see what I mean.  Some of the decisions were really bizarre.

Anyway, the International Petroleum Investment Company’s Works’ Team turned up all properly kitted out – and indeed I am told that the British taxpayer has very kindly donated a stadium to them – the one that we paid for when there was the Commonwealth Games in that far flung north western town.

I know some people don’t like that idea, but I do think it is nice to help out those less fortunate than ourselves in the far flung colonies.

The result was a 2-2 draw which makes it 13 unbeaten and it reminded me of that very funny moment when a man from the Times (the thing that used to be a newspaper) interviewed a couple of guys from the AAA at an Arsenal/Man C game and the guys said that this was the worst Arsenal team they could ever remember.   Oh how we laughed!  We won 2-1 away and it was 31 August 2003   Even more droll we were in the Unbeaten Season.  Oh how we laughed!

Still it was the anniversary of Jack becoming Arsenal’s youngest ever player when he came on on 13 September 2008, and I must say I thought he played very well today and took his goal very well.  I mean, I know we were only playing a works team, but even so, credit where it was due.  He’s really picked himself up this season has the young-fella-me-lad.

Overall I think the lads “dun great” as we used to say back in the dim and distant, against a bunch of fairly rough and ready blokes, who committed 15 fouls seen by the ref and probably three times as many not seen.  Quite a to-do!

But we had nine shots to their seven, so not too bad.

Debouchy got injured near the end – the season of Arsenal players crocking themselves, that is what this season is!  What is going on?  Anyway Drew tells me it was a badly sprained ankle not a break.

But I must mention Alxis’ goal which was taken beautifully.

It was taken beautifully.

And I must say, although this was just a nothern works’ team the way we played in the opening half hour was like the way we took control over the Community Shield match.  Skill and intensity, and intensity, and did I mention the skill, and the speed, and the intensity – oh it was fun toe watch.   You could see the scribblers in the press box actually putting down the gin and tonics for a second before asking for the ninth top up, and looking in each other in bemusement.  “Had the teams swapped shirts?” they were asking.  “Arsenal lose 26-0 against top three opposition – I know that because it says so in the papers.” and “Fuck a duck, this can’t be right,” (that last from the man from the Financial Times.)

But of course they had all made the mistake of believing their own gibberish as published in the press.

As for Wilshere’s goal, well, I must come back to that.  Ramsey to Jack, a by-pass around Gaël Clichy (and what a coincidence that was, for do you remember we used to have a player with exactly the same name) and that beautiful clipped ball that our Jack does so well.

Alexis Sánchez (note the accent) then decided that if Jack could do it so could he, and I would call it majestic, except that would be a bit cruel on the honest toilers from ‘tup north.  “Superlatively amazing” will do.

But by this time Arsenal were endlessly looking over their shoulder at what the rough and tumble ragamuffin who was refereeing would do next.  Nobody knew, it was all so erratic.  But he waved his arms about a lot, and I’m told  that is good.  Is that right?

Oh and we also had a clown, to complete the circus.  He was called Pellegrini and he said that he had to take off Agüero because a little angel had come along and told him, by the flapping of her wings, that the ref would send the Works Team’s player off.  So believing in fortune telling Pelle-baby (as he likes to be called) took the Agüero off.  Oh yes and he said that there were big time, really big, awfully big, I mean giant sized fouls before each Arsenal goal.  Hey ho.

Danny Welbeck looked good and was unlucky only to hit the post early on, and he’ll get better.  The crowd are with him which is good too.

Anyway, the ruffians from up yonder had their day out in the capital, and obviously looked and marvelled, as did their jolly fellow travellers, who let off no steam rockets of smoking bombs  as their neighbours from that other northern city do.

As we left the ground we found a gaggle of Works’ Team fans all bedecked in their jolly blue and white, standing outside the Auld Triangle public house (you remember the one I took you too when you said you wanted to see a real traditional beer on the floor vomit on the ceiling public house) thinking about going in.  We saved their lives by saying that they probably wouldn’t like it, and  the beer’s atrocious anyway.   They smiled and thanked us kindly, and we directed them to a pub up the other end of the Seven Sisters Road.

So there there we are.   A day out for the International Petroleum Investment Co and their happy band. I hope they enjoyed their trip down south, and that they can return to their abodes and tell their employers about the values of democracy.

Look forward to seeing you again soon.

Your pal,


  • Wojciech Szczesny
  • Mathieu Debuchy
  • Per Mertesacker
  • Laurent Koscielny
  • Nacho Monreal
  • Mathieu Flamini
  • Alexis Sanchez
  • Aaron Ramsey
  • Jack Wilshere
  • Mesut Ozil
  • Danny Welbeck
  • Mikel Arteta (s 90′)
  • Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (s 88′)
  • Calum Chambers (s 81′)

Down on the beach:

  • Kieran Gibbs
  • Lukas Podolski
  • David Ospina
  • Santi Cazorla

Incidentally someone wrote in and said that Ospina was not on the beach, but I really think he was.  He had a pretty towel and a little umbrella.  I’m sure it was him.


The books
The complete Arsenal Anniversary series is to be found on the Arsenal History Society site.

44 Replies to “Arsenal 2 International Petroleum Investment Company XI 2”

  1. Lord Professor Sir Michael Owingtounforseseencircumstances declared that the primary goal for the chaps in red was bagged by the Earl of Wiltshire.
    Please get it ‘right’

    Other than that minor error that all seems fine – please transmit to our Belgian correspondent forthwith.

    PS Bloody funny – thank you Tony 🙂

  2. Mr Attwood,

    for the umpteenth time in the last few weeks I will give you a correction: it’s not 13 (thirteen) games in a row, it’s 14 (fourteen) in a row without a defeat in competitive matches.

    1.Wigan – 1:1* (4:2 on penalties),
    2.West Ham – 3:1*,
    3.Hull – 3:0,
    4.Newcastle – 3:0,
    5.West Brom – 1:0,
    6.Norwich – 2:0,
    7.Hull – 3:2**,
    8.Manchester City – 3:0,
    9.Crystal Palace – 2:1*,
    10.Bešiktaš – 0:0,
    11.Everton – 2:2**,
    12.Bešiktaš – 1:0,
    13.Leicester – 1:1,
    14.Manchester City – 2:2*.

    * – came back from one goal behind,

    ** – came back from two goal down.

  3. Tony,

    I second Josif on this. Please fix it and get it right next time. It’s 14 not 13. If you go back to the first article in which you mentioned the unbeaten run number, you’ll notice that you missed out the goalless draw away to Besiktas.

    Please make the correction: it is 14 not 13!

  4. Now that the whole world is telling us that we let in 2 goals because we did not sign a ‘beast’ of a DM, I think they are right.

    And guess what, City let in 2 goals because, well, ARSENAL did not sign a ‘beast’ of a DM.
    And the very next game, Chelsea let in 2 goals because, ARSENAL did not sign a ‘beast’ of a DM.


  5. Well done Tony. The Clattenberg turned out to be just as bad as the Blatternbrg of FUFA. Wrong on his decisions and forgiving to the boys in blue.

    Arsenal were good and will improve. Alexis & Danny Boy will light up our team.

  6. For me, I want to take it as, Arsenal are unbeaten in 7 competitive games in all competitions this season. Anyway, I don’t mind the usage of the 14 unbeaten runs that dated back to last season. But I preferred using this season’s runs. I want to see Welbeck and Ramsey to improve on their goal scoring markmanships. They should make sure they bury any chance they have on the first time of asking at Dortmound on Tuesday night. If they had done this at the Emirates today, Arsenal would have unfaillingly beat Man City in today’s match. Infact, their misses cost us collecting the maximum 3 points at stake. Let them bear this faillings in their minds and get to improve on it.

  7. Tony,
    Please let’s have your catering report. You can’t have lasted out until Corby without grub.

  8. Tony great you have mentioned the great thing about the game but what of the ugly.1.the fact that we have a coach that is becoming tactically lazy.2 the fac that wenger completely ignores our bench and does use it until players are (semi) crooked.after our 2nd goal we needed fresh legs ,Ramsey,welbeck,and pail were worn out,we didn’t get it and I feel it cost us 2points.happened against besikstas.really annoying.

  9. Fourteen undefeated…..not a bad run, especially with a very difficult start to the season, and new players, and possibly new systems bedding in.

    On another topic, those with a keen memory will remember a team, about a year ago, unexpectedly beaten at home by Aston Villa.
    The fickle amongst the fans imploded, despite the obvious role of the ref in this game. Ex players lined up wanting the manager sacked, and the media went into over drive against the club, all it stands for, the owner, players, board and especially the manager. Broken cannons all over the papers, little else discussed on the back pages for quite a time.

    As one who believes the British sense of fair play really…..truly…does exist…..even in the media……and is not a myth at all ,I shall be expecting Liverpool to get exactly the same treatment as this club in the press tomorrow. Broken Liver birds in the Sun tomorrow?

  10. Arsenal defend really badly and concede 2 against the champs. All over the place, defence goes to sleep and damn zonal marking.
    The champs conceded 2 but are a really well organized team.
    Chelsea concede 2 from Swans, one taken beautifully by Terry (but he can’t be faulted), and they are the darling of the world and every team should learn defending from them!

    Media not like Gunners…

  11. Oh well. I was hoping we’d get three points today but at least Sanchez is looking like a great signing. Damn shame we didn’t get Costa though, he might just be the man that wins Chelsea the title. I loathe that lot but they look the business so far, curse them. We need to get winning soon, we’re drifting a little. Great shame about Debuchy’s injury, hope it’s not as bad as it looks.

  12. Defensively, we were worrying – teams are counter-attacking with too much ease, and one hopes that it’s just a case of some players still getting back to full match sharpness rather than a coaching/personnel/formation problem.

  13. Costa shares the same agent as Jose, a guy we seem wary of getting involved with… we were never going to get him ahead of Chelsea. But who we got ain’t bad.

  14. @Mandy, I know Mandy, just hope Costa gets injured, would make a change if some other teams suffered injuries to key players as frequently as we do. I’m sure Welbeck will come good and Walcott should be back soon.

  15. @Mandy Dodd, if I remember well (and I do) since that defeat against Aston Villa we have signed:

    -Mathieu Flamini, a defensive midfielder (even Untold Arsenal noted lack of balance in our midfield axis Ramsey-Wilshere that left Mertesacker and Koscielny exposed to Agbonlahor’s and Benteke’s bursts),

    -Mesut Özil, 42,5 million pounds, the best No. 10 in the world,

    -Alexis Sánchez, 35 million pounds, a versatile pacey striker who can play in all positions across the attack, the one that never stops working for his team, the one that regularly scores in big matches (check for his goals against Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid respectively last season),

    -Mathieu Debuchy, 12 million pounds, a right full-back who replaced Bacary Sagna who is behind him in pecking order in French national team,

    -Calum Chambers, 16 million pounds, a versatile defensive player who can play in all defensive positions aside from left full-back (and I say that only because he hasn’t been played there yet!),

    -Danny Welbeck, 16 million pounds, a versatile pacey striker who can play in all positions across the attack and a player that looks like one of the most polite and modest players out there (I don’t mention this for no reason – the character of Luis Suarez is the main reason why I was against Arsenal signing him).

    So, the biggest criticism of Wenger was: “Spend some f***ing money!” Whether Wenger spent the money because he knew he had been wrong before or he spent money because he realized that it’s the right time to do so is rather irrelevant. The thing is, he has spent some serious money since that defeat against Anthony Villain – 121,5 million pounds in 13 months (I didn’t count money spent on David Ospina simply because the Colombian hasn’t featured yet). We have won two last trophies that were out there to win in English football, we had spent 18 weeks on the top before injuries brought us down to fourth place and we now enjoy a streak without defeat that has lasted since April.

  16. We draw with the champions in a pulsating match – and Match of the Day roll out clips from last season to criticize our defence. What crap!

    Great quality and great persistence, battling qualities from our team. And two lovely goals!

  17. @Josif, we’ve made great signings. As you say Ozil best no.10 in the world, I just wish we’d play him there. Out on the wing he sometimes looks a little disinterested. Great talent, just hope his attitude matches that.

  18. Decent performance, great game, and you get the feeling that the side is beginning to click.

    I have to ask this, because I’m beginning to think I hallucinated it, especially with all of the focus on the Wilshere handball.

    About half way through the second half (around the hour?) Özil was breaking into the City half, and ran into a dead end. The commentator on BT mentioned something off the ball, and in the background of the replay, I’m sure I saw Wellbeck sprinting to get position, only to be flattened by Fernandinho (I think).

    It seems to have been whitewashed out of the highlights, so I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to have another look. From what I remember it wasn’t even a coming together, but a deliberate shoulder barge to knock him over.

    I really don’t know about the rules on off-the-ball stuff and whether it counts as a foul or what the punishment would be.

  19. What a lot of wailing about Wilshere’s handball. I saw the replays over and over and I am not even sure it hit his hand. The way Pellegrini is talking you’d think we mugged them instead of the other way around.

  20. Rufus,
    The rules, as set out by Clattenburg today, are quite clear.
    Systematically and rotationally fouling Arsenal is not only allowed but to be encouraged as is kicking the ball away having conceded a free kick when you have already been booked.
    However taking your shirt off after scoring is a heinous crime worthy of a yellow.
    First class display, Clattenburg. Your owners must be well pleased.

  21. GGG,
    I believe Pellegrini is engaging in some Ferguson style managerial misdirection. By getting in first he is attempting to set the agenda for the media and hoping to take the spotlight off the fact that the Vulgarians now have 1 point out if 6 and only got that by engaging in Ferguson/Mourinho style rotational fouling. Just how many times is the cross country runner that is Milner allowed to kick and foul his way through games before he gets a yellow?
    It’s only by the grace or should I say collusion of Clattenburg that they ended up with 11 on the pitch.

  22. To be honest, I don’t think this will be the season of getting EPL.

    The back is a problem. People just drop the ball into the six yard box and 4 or 5 of them would make runs right into it. Every team knows how to get an easy goal from Arsenal now.

    On the other hand, them mid field and attack really is as scary as we believed. That should be enough to keep the team very competitive.

    As I said, Wenger should have gotten an eye for one or two defensive player and working hard/ waiting for the opportunity to sign. He rather save the money instead of buying some cover player who will end up like squid version 2.0.

  23. It was an exciting game. Very open game considering it’s still early season. Punch for punch, both teams were equal. A lot of Oilers’ fouls went unpunished. Don’t know how Fernandinho and Miller still in the pitch. Can’t hide the fact that Gunners made a lot of mistakes, as season goes on, will improve upon it. Welbeck, Wilshere and Sanchez was awesome. Kos and Per need some more time together. Terrific battle of Monreal/Navas and Debuchy/Nasri. Ramsey, Flamini and Ozil looked very tired. End of the day, I think fair result. Most importantly, Gunners never gave up and still unbeaten.

  24. To me this match showed something important – Wenger’s priorities.

    This match could have been won, in my opinion, had Wenger taken Ozil off. For the best part of the match – probably 70 minutes – Ozil was the worst player on the pitch. He started on the left and did nothing, about 30th minute moved to the right, and did nothing, and later on wandered into the middle and did nothing.

    And when I say did nothing, I mean defensively. Attack-wise, he did negatively – almost every ball that got to him (out of the very few), was lost in a compromising position. His anti-link-up led to the breakdown of a few of our attacks. I admit, I was very frustrated with him. It was clear that it is something mental – that he just cannot bring himself to believe that he will get it right.

    But Arsene played him for 90 minutes. And even though I still believe playing Ox from minute 45 on would have won us the match – from the 70th minute or so, Ozil was getting better. Stringing a few good passes, getting into good positions, dribbling at City’s players. And I think I know what Arsene is doing – he is thinking long term. Taking Ozil off would have killed his confidence. Remember – last year – Ozil’s confidence started dwindeling after some very unlucky events in some very decisive games, including the penalty miss vs. Bayern.

    He needs to play, and play, and play. And when he gets his confidence back, he will play left right and center – and kick ass. So yeah it might be a bit frustrating now, but he is a huge player and we need him to be on fire.

    As for the rest of the squad, great match, too bad we conceded that corner as it was unlucky but I cannot say that we did not get a few rubs of the green ourselves.

    And now let’s hope for a win next week and a draw between KGB and $ity…


  25. How was James Milner not booked in that game? If Graham Poll was refereeing he would have been booked at least 3 times 🙂

  26. Apart from Fernandinho’s typical persistent fouling that gets punished with a booking after 100th foul (he got away with that in Brazil too), I’d say Clattenburg had a really good game (especially comparing to what we usually have to deal with). No major screw-ups, no penalties for the opponents that even their mothers wouldn’t give, no not-given penalties for us that would have been awarded by Alex Ferguson himself…

  27. TommieGun : I do not agree with your accessment on how bad Ozil is particularly in offense. Of course, his defensive will always be a bit limited… even Mourhino said plainly.

    I think Ozil did alright on the flanks for Germany although he’s better in the middle. He is definitely not rubbish on left wing as claimed by many. On the other hand, he is worse on left with Arsenal than he was with Germany. May be can’t handle the higher tempo and more physical side on the flanks.

    I really prefer more defensive against City. I do not worry about creativity or attack bc Arsenal got very fast players and Wilshere, Ramsey can both pass even in their less than perfect mode.

    Besides, there’s a player who isn’t weaker offensively but offer more in interception, tracking and pressing : Cazorla. He is not a defensive player but he has a better work at pressing. Ozil seem to go to the player, and set distance to create difficult but the psychological pressure isn’t enough… Cazorla gets closer to do the work.

    You are however very correct about why Wenger plays Ozil. Only big games can help him gain form. It seems to be working for Wilshere. How long does it take to work for Ozil? I have no idea.

    There are more many guys not doing well recently. Flamini and Ramsey both behind. Koz and Per aren’t neither although not that far behind.

    Monreal, I think he was a lot better compare to before until this game against very fast players. We can’t ask the whole team first team and bench to be filled with very fast players. So I am OK with him.

    The attack is as good as we predicted. Let’s hope no more injuries and the much improved attack would carry the team through.

    It would be very hard for this team to be number one in EPL this year. No.2 however, looks like the right place. Next year, no.1 with deffensive additions.

  28. @ Nelson, I didn’t understand what in my assesment you did not agree to. I urge you to remind me of one, ONE, good offensive thing Ozil did before the 65th-70th minute or so.

    I don’t give a shit how well he does for Germany, or where his best position is. I think it’s not the relevant discussion: it’s his confidence, and like I said, when he’s back, he can deliver in almost any position over the pitch. He needs the belief to take on players and the aggressiveness to win back posession. There was one instance where he was just robbed of possesion when someone just nicked the ball from behind him. What did he do? fall on his face.

    That’s mental, not physical. And my guess is Arsene is working on that. Time frame ? IMO 2 months.

  29. Speaking of Monreal, I think he has been a victim of Özil being played on the wing. The German doesn’t have the defensive awareness and Monreal has been regularly outnumbered by the opponents. I wanted to see either Welbeck or Alexis down the left flank with the other in the middle in the second half in order to either keep Zabaleta on his back foot or to get him into the trouble (he had earned a booking in the first half).

    Our biggest problem so far has been defending set-pieces. If we take our preseason into account, we have conceded nine goals, six of those after set-pieces.

    Second thing that worries me: is there any information about what is happening with Tomas Rosicky and Joel Campbell?

  30. @TommieGun

    Ozil was actually involved in the build up to our second goal, abbout 6 touches before it fell to Sanchez.

    However, I do agree with you in that the match could have been won, and as is normal our use of substitutions left a lot to be desired. However,a mitigating factor win this game as when Debuchy got injured and needed to be replaced, it altered the imminent and planned substitution.

    Overall though a great effort by the players, even if Flamini who was found wanting, it is not his fault he was selected. Sanchez was head and shoulders the best player on the pitch, his skill matched only by his effort.

  31. Prattenburg was truly appalling yesterday, though not all in favour of Arsenal. Clearly City should have had a penalty when Jack used his arm to win the ball, but at the same time the lack of bookings for City players was unbelievable. The fact that Milner and Company ended the game booking free is a complete mystery. Perhaps it is because one is an ‘honest’ Englishman (who doesn’t play for Arsenal) and the other is a media darling?

    A draw was a pretty fair result. The defensive issues remain at Arsenal, but the attacking play was much much better. Wins now against Villa and Spurs and it will be a good start, but we can’t afford to drop too far behind Chelsea.

  32. @ initials, that’s why I said before 65th-70th minute 😀

    It was actually visible that he is getting his mojo back. I was so happy Arsene didn’t sub him … he has this quality, that few others have – to spot the non-banal, the unordinary pass or space. That’s why he sometimes needs an extra second (which in some cases helps the opposition take the ball away from him) – because he wants to get the ball into that specific place.

  33. @TommieGun

    Funny how i was going to post exactly the same thing.
    AW needs to play players (now that he has many more of them) when they perform, and bench them when they dont.
    OX at half time would have changed the game. This is the part of the tactical side (OK enough said).
    We have players raring to go, and Ozil at the moment is not doing enough.
    The movement of the team is not yet as good as we know they can play, i was hoping this would be the game to propel us forward.

    Still, we have not lost.

  34. @ Para, my conclusion is actually the opposite – eventually I’m happy Ozil stayed because we will need him as the season progresses and we need his confidence back.

  35. @Nicky there was no catering report because there was no time for catering. The M1 was kyboshed so Tony took us on a tour of almost-eastern-England. If he hadn’t been able to navigate using his smart phone Thor alone knows when we might have gotten to Arnos Grove! As it is was we reached the Em at 12.45 so missed ko by seconds. And no food till afterwards (a chip van outside)

    chips we ok, trifle dear at £2.50 for a small plate mind

  36. @blacksheep63
    £2.50 is not bad for a bowl of trifle as long as it had plenty of sherry in it. I’d never have thought to eat it with chips though, sounds disgusting!

  37. So, a match with suboptimal refereeing, with suboptimal team cohesion, before a tough CL match, with non-ideal strings of events (re Aguero, Debuchy), against the reigning champions, who are worth about £1bil more than us, results in a draw. What’s the worry here, that we gave away the lead after we had overturned a 1-goal deficit? The only downsides that I can see is that it’s been on our turf, not theirs, and our concentration when defending a set-piece could have been better. The rest of the factors being against us, I don’t see how we could have gotten a much better result. Yes, the match looked winnable, and it might have been, but only by a slight margin, so, again, set-piece defending aside I thought there wasn’t much we could have done better at this moment. Let the season roll in, we have some decent matches coming, so there is every reason to be optimistic.

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